Happy Trump blocking people 'unconstitutional', rules U.S. judge

Thursday, 24 May, 2018

She said she assumed Trump's social media director Dan Scavino would unblock the users in light of her decision.

"Blocking of the individual plaintiffs as a result of the political views they have expressed is impermissible under the First Amendment", Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in the decision.

The Knight First Amendment Institute director, Jameel Jaffer, suggested that further legal action would be taken if the president continued to block people on Twitter.

In an email to The Associated Press, department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said, "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps".

"This increases my faith in the system a little", he said.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump may not block people on Twitter over the political views they share on social media ― a tactic his administration has employed against at least dozens of people.

The ruling is significant because it shows that if a public official uses Twitter in an official capacity, that can qualify it as a public forum - where freedom of speech is protected. To do so, Buchwald wrote, "constitutes viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment".

"The blocking of the individual plaintiffs from the @realDonaldTrump account due to their expressed political views violates the First Amendment", declared the judge, a Clinton appointee who serves on a court in NY. The group argued that failing to recognize Trump's Twitter feed as a public forum would "threaten critical First Amendment values". Trump had tweeted it, and that made it so.

The simplest thing to do would be to block them, which is what US President Donald Trump has been doing in which he has been blocking those he deems to be his critics.

In a 75-page ruling that rejects Trump's argument that he has a First Amendment right to pick with whom he associates and not to engage with others, a Manhattan federal judge said the section of his personal account with the reply button is a public forum.

What about Trump's right to block whomever he wants to block?

As a result of the President's blocking of the Individual Plaintiffs from @realDonaldTrump, the Individual Plaintiffs can not view the President's tweets; directly reply to these tweets; or use the @realDonaldTrump webpage to view the comment threads associated with the President's tweets while they are logged in to their verified accounts.

The decision marks a victory for free-speech activists representing seven Twitter users who alleged that their rights had been infringed after they tweeted at Trump critiquing his policies. Blocking prohibits another user from viewing or replying to an account, while muting allows a Twitter user to squelch other users' tweets and replies from showing up in their feed. She also noted that Trump uses his @realDonaldTrump account for official business. She said the First Amendment protects people even from trivial harm.

So, no more bans for American Twitter users then. And does it matter if that public official is the president? Because Mr. Trump and Mr. Scavino also retain control over the account, she said, it's a government space as well.